Story & Photos by Matt Bayman
When it comes down to it, Ohio can be a very scary place. We have aliens and UFO sightings. Bigfoot is alleged to live in several of our state parks and forests. Giant frogs and mothmen have been spotted near our rivers. We have haunted castles, haunted tunnels and haunted farms. And, in case you didn’t know it, Ohio has the most haunted attractions of any state. If you’re from here, it might seem like every place has as many haunted houses and haunted trails to enjoy. But actually, this is mostly a Midwestern thing, with the next two states with the most haunted attractions being Indiana and Kentucky.
Apparently, and as most people already know, we really love Halloween around here. We start celebrating in mid-September and don’t let up until the first weekend in November. We go to haunted houses and get lost in corn mazes, attend pumpkin glows and trunk or treats, take hayrides to the pumpkin patch and attend zombie walks and ghost hunts. We decorate our homes and yards with elaborate props and watch scary movies. We attend Halloween campouts and murder mystery dinners, host costume contests and parades, and visit alleged haunted places. Throw in a few fall festivals and fall treats, and it’s a fun and memorable time of year to be an Ohioan.
With this in mind, the following guide contains a number of Halloween-themed road trips that include many of these activities. By chance, or circumstance, many haunted attractions are located in clusters throughout the Buckeye State, making it possible to visit multiple attractions in one trip. This includes here at home, which is where we’ll start…
For nearly four decades, Fairborn has been an unofficial “Halloween City” in Ohio. This is almost entirely due to the Foy family who operates five nostalgic businesses in the historic district—Foy’s Halloween & Variety Store and Foy’s Adult Costume Store (open year-round) and the Haunted House Store (featuring special effects and props), Kids Costume Store and Haunted Museum, which are open in October only, or by special appointment.
October really is a special time to visit Fairborn. Along with the extra fun at Foy’s, the annual Downtown Fairborn Halloween Festival takes place on the third weekend of October and offers activities such as the Spooktactular Parade and costume contest on Friday, a zombie walk on Saturday, festival-wide Trick or Treat with vendors on Sunday and Halloween-themed entertainment throughout the weekend, plus live music, food, crafts and more. This year’s festival takes place Oct. 20-22.
Foy’s Haunted House Store and Kids Costume Store open for the season on Oct. 1. The Haunted Museum is open from 6-10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights in October. A live DJ and vendors selling pumpkin bread, apple cider and other treats often set up outside of the museum during these hours.
Besides Foy’s, there are several other unique stores to visit in downtown Fairborn, starting with The Secret Chamber House of Oddities and Artwork at 17 W. Main St. This one-of-a-kind shop was established in 2017 by owner Cherish Brooks, who, after spending nearly a decade traveling with horror-movie and oddities conventions, opened her own brick and mortar store in the downtown. The shop features more than 30 artists from all over the country who “share their love for the macabre.” Brooks hosts a variety of exhibits, art shows and special events throughout the year.
Rounding things out in the downtown are Coyne’s Crystals, a rock shop at 25 E. Main St., Bookery Fantasy Collectibles, a comics and collectibles store at 16 W. Main St., and Time Warp Toys and Collectibles at 20 W. Main St. Not to mention the Miami Valley Military History Museum at 4 E. Main St., among numerous other shops, eateries and attractions in the downtown.
Finally, downtown Faiborn is located directly next to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, which, although the base denies it, is allegedly linked to the Roswell UFO crash of 1947, being the place where the wreckage (and possibly alien bodies) was taken after the incident in New Mexico. Radio reports from the time do indeed report that the wreckage (whatever it was) was taken to “Wright Field” for examination. Local folklore, also denied by the base, is that the wreckage was kept in Hangar 18, which actually does exist on the base.
To see the best views of the base, head to the Huffman Prairie Lookout at the Wright Brothers Memorial, located at 2380 Memorial Rd. in Dayton. From this high vantage point, which was cherished by early Native American Moundbuilders, as evidenced by several ancient mounds on the property, you can see the landing strips at the base in one direction and (in the winter when foliage is missing) the unmarked buildings (including Hangar 18) in the other direction. If you’re lucky, one of the base’s giant transport planes will land or take-off during your visit, which is something to see! (Learn more about Wright Patt's UFO history HERE)
The Land of Illusions in Middletown was one of the first haunted theme parks in the world and remains one of the best. Likewise, Kings Island was one of the first theme parks to transform into a Halloween haunt in the fall and is also top-notch.
The Land of Illusions Haunted Scream Park contains six attractions in one with multiple pricing options. As an added bonus, there are a variety of musical concerts and events (plus food) throughout October.
Voted “Best Theme Park Halloween Event” by USA TODAY in 2022, Halloween Haunt at Kings Island is an immersive experience that includes scare mazes and scare zones, Halloween-themed entertainment and music and “hundreds of horrifying creatures lurking in the fog and hiding around every corner of the park waiting for you!” Plus, a number of roller coasters, rides and games remain open for visitors to enjoy.
Halloween Haunt takes place Friday-Sunday in late September through October. Admission is $45.
Located a few miles from downtown Fairborn and the base at 5117 Valley Pike is Dayton Scream Park, formerly known as Nightmare on Valley Street. It is one of the longest-running haunted attractions in the Miami Valley. The attraction is a combination haunted house and haunted trail (with a maze at the end of the trail) and is open every Friday and Saturday night through October. The cost is $20 on Friday and $25 on Saturday. Their website always has a coupon for a few dollars off.
SEE MORE HAUNTED HOUSES
Lewisburg Haunted Cave is considered one of the best haunted attractions in the world. For many years, it held the Guinness World Record for being the longest walk-through haunted house in existence, and it’s still one of the longest.
Over the years, the Haunted Cave has developed into an attraction that uses technology, animatronics and actors, plus the natural creepiness of the cave, to create an unparalleled, terrifying experience for thrill-seekers. It can take as long as a half-hour to get through the cave, which makes the cost seem a little more worth it. Some of the technology is pretty wild, too, including massive flat screen televisions that project life-size monsters and ghosts and that contain 4-D effects, such as loud noises and hot blasts of air. Watch out for self-driving cars inside of the cave as well. There are literally surprises around every corner, not to mention a variety of theatrics that make it a one-of-a-kind experience.
The Haunted Cave is located at 4392 Swishers Mill Rd. and open every Friday and Saturday mid-September through October from 7 p.m. to midnight on Friday and 6 p.m. to midnight on Saturday. The cost is $25 for adults and $15 for children, although the price increases to $30 for adults on Saturdays in October.
If you’re interested in the cave, but not the monsters, they also offer a Mine Wagon Ride in the cave for $15 for adults and $5 for children. (Bottom left picture courtesy of the Haunted Cave)
As the home of the Ohio State Reformatory and nearby Malabar Farm State Park, Mansfield is considered one of the most haunted places in America.
Each year, ghost hunters flock to the reformatory and state park to seek out paranormal activity. For a fee, the Ohio State Reformatory (where Shawshank Redemption was filmed) offers public ghost hunts from 7 p.m. until 3 in the morning. For an even bigger fee, you get the entire place to yourself!
The prison has a long, documented history of paranormal activity, as does Malabar Farm State Park. The prison has been called “one of the most paranormally active structures in the state.”
Malabar Farm (pictured above) was once the home of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Louis Bromfield, who built his Greek revival house and lived on the farm in the 1940s and 50s. He was known to entertain many famous guests from Hollywood, including James Cagny and Shirley Temple. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall got married and honeymooned on the farm. While the mansion is interesting to tour and view, it is not the haunted attraction at the farm.
According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Ceely Rose House (located on the property) was the setting of a triple murder in 1896. Ceely Rose, the adult daughter of David and Rebecca who operated a mill on the property, poisoned her family with arsenic over their disapproval of her infatuation with a neighbor boy. She was arrested and sentenced to an asylum where she died in 1934, but many people say she now haunts the farm. Each Sunday in October, with reservations, the state park hosts a guided ghost walk of the property, including the Rose house. For reservations, call (419) 892-2784.
Each October, the ghost hunts at the Ohio State Reformatory are put on hold to make way for Blood Prison, a haunted house that utilizes large swaths of the old prison to scare visitors. This includes walking through monster-filled cellblocks, common areas and offices that have been transformed into a maze of terror.
Considered one of the top haunted attractions in the country, Blood Prison contains elaborate props, animatronics, noises and special effects, plus top-notch actors and theatrics that start even before you get inside the prison. It takes about a half-hour or longer to get through.
The haunted prison is open every Friday-Sunday in October. General admission is $35 and can be purchased in advance (recommended) at bloodprison.com.
Two of the most popular activities at Landoll’s Mohican Castle, a bed and breakfast in Loudonville near Mohican State Park, is the castle’s ghost walk and its paranormal investigations.
The property has been featured on A&E’s Ghost Hunters and has a documented history of strange occurrences.
Ghost hunts/paranormal investigations include a tour of the active areas, exclusive access to the grounds for at least 10 hours, an indoor location to set up your equipment, access to the pool house (when available), access to the tunnel under the Castle, and best of all, access to the private 230-year-old Heyd Cemetery. A cottage that is considered the most haunted location on the property is also available to investigate for an additional fee, starting at $199 per night on weekdays. Ghost hunts are $65 per person, with a minimum of 4 people required. Less than 4 can attend but you must pay for the minimum.
The Ghost Walk & Haunted History Tours are offered by reservation in September and October for $25 per person. Visitors will embark on a one-hour guided haunted history tour of the cemetery. For more information, call (419) 994-3427. LEARN MORE (Images below from Landoll's Mohican Castle)
Believe it or not, Ohio is ranked as one of the top places in the United States to see Bigfoot. He’s not in downtown Columbus, but lurking in the giant state parks and forests that surround Mohican Lodge (near Mansfield) and Salt Fork Lodge. There have been reports of such creatures in the Buckeye State as far back as the 1700s, leading up to the present.
In July of 2022, a woman living near Loudonville (next to Mohican State Park and the lodge) recorded what she believed to be a “howling Bigfoot.” (Scientists think it was an alpha coyote calling his pack, but they are not certain.) The recording made international news and can be heard online HERE.
This wasn’t the first recording in Ohio. In 1994, the famous “Ohio Howl” was recorded in Columbiana County, not far from Salt Fork State Park. It’s also available on YouTube. LISTEN NOW
In 2020, a family camping at Pleasant Hill Lake Park (in the state park) reported objects being thrown at their tent and seeing a “tall, dark and hairy figure” running into the woods upon investigating.
A rash of sightings were reported in Guernsey County (home of Salt Fork) in the 1980s and even earlier (the 1950s) to the south of this area.
The list goes on.
Today, Bigfoot hunting has become so popular at Mohican and Salt Fork state parks that both lodges host a major Bigfoot event each year and park rangers host special programs.
The annual Bigfoot Basecamp Weekend is hosted at Pleasant Hill Park. This year’s event takes place Oct. 5-8 and includes investigator presentations, guided night hikes, pontoon tours of the lake, authors, merchandise and more. It is a ticketed event that is co-hosted by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District.
Mohican Lodge hosts the Ohio Bigfoot Conference each May (look for a statue of the beast in the lodge) and Mohican State Park hosts seasonal Bigfoot night hikes and adventure weekends for campers and visitors to the park.
If you’d rather hunt for Bigfoot on your own, the local visitor’s bureau has some suggestions on where to look. The first is Morgan’s Knob (where an episode of Finding Bigfoot was filmed). There’s also the cabin area at the park (where an episode of Monster Quest about Bigfoot was filmed) and along Parker Road. And, of course, there’s Bigfoot Ridge, a primitive campground within the park. There are also 10 hiking trails to hunt in the park!
(NOTE: Another annual event is the Hocking Hills Bigfoot Festival. It takes place each August in downtown Logan.)
Along with Bigfoot sightings, Mohican State Park is also known to be haunted, specifically the hiking trails near Lyons Falls, named after a man named Paul Lyons.
According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, “Legend has it that Paul was a recluse who lived in the area with his milk cow over a century ago. One dark and stormy night, Paul realized his cow had wandered off into the woods and he went to find it. He could barely hear the sound of the bell around the cow’s neck over the moaning of the harsh wind. He followed the faint clanking into the darkening woods to the edge of the steep falls. Paul could see very little in the driving storm and lost his footing on the slick rock beneath his feet, falling 80 feet to his death. Folks say that on dark nights, the sound of the cowbell can be heard on the trail to Lyons Falls, and the figure of a man waving a lantern can be seen at the top of the cliff.”
Every October people flock to Lyons Falls in hopes of seeing the ghost of Paul Lyons and his lost cow.
Who knows, maybe Bigfoot got them both!
Other places to visit in the area:
Fright Fest Weekends in October at the Shelby/Mansfield KOA in Shelby. LEARN MORE
Hideaway Country Inn in Bucyrus - Alleged to be haunted and available to rent. LEARN MORE
Brownella Cottage & Galion Historical Museum in Galion near Mansfield - Rated as “one of the most haunted locations in Ohio.” The home is open for private investigations. LEARN MORE
The Trail of Nightmares, 4135 Park Ave., Ontario - Located on the outskirts of Mansfield, this haunted trail receives rave reviews
Mohican Haunted Schoolhouse, 155 W. 3rd St., Perrysville - There are a lot of abandoned schools in rural Ohio. This one has been set aside as a haunted house that attracts visitors from far and wide each October.
There are a number of reasons to visit Chillicothe during Halloween time. For starters, the community is home to the Chillicothe Halloween Festival, taking place on Oct. 13-15 this year. During this event, Yoctangee Park is filled with Halloween vendors, food, entertainment and unique events, such as Coffin Races and a Ghost Walk, among others. It is free to attend. (Images below from the Chillicothe Halloween Festival)
After spending the afternoon at the Halloween Festival, take in a live performance of The Frankenstein Experience at Haunted Mountain. This show is performed on the same outdoor stage as Tecumseh each Thursday through Saturday in October. But this is more than just a show.
For one price, the all-inclusive experience starts with an escape room at 6 p.m., followed by the stage show at 7:30 p.m. At 9 p.m., attendees walk through a haunted trail before enjoying an evening film on the big screen, plus tomahawk throwing and a scavenger hunt. A concession stand has everything needed to stay warm and full.
While some past shows at Haunted Mountain have been adult-themed, this year’s show (and experience) is suggested for those 6 and older. If you enjoy theater and Halloween, this is one of the most unique experiences you can find in Ohio.
Get your tickets at hauntedmountain.org.
Finally, just south of Chillicothe, in the middle of nowhere, is a notable haunted attraction. The Backwoodz Oddities Last Carnival Haunted House, 832 Valley Rd. in Waverly, is an award-winning attraction that is open every Friday and Saturday in October from 8 p.m. to midnight. The haunt itself is very good, but it’s the remote location that really puts the icing on the cake.
Probably the most well-known haunted place in Ohio, the Moonville Tunnel is an abandoned railroad tunnel located in the middle of Wayne National Forest near McArthur and next to Lake Hope State Park. It is a popular place to visit in the middle of the night, when it is said that the ghost of an old railroad worker can still be seen walking with his lantern through the tunnel.
While people visit the tunnel year-round, it has become most popular to visit during the Midnight to Moonville festival, taking place on Oct. 14 this year.
Midnight at Moonville is a one-day Halloween-themed event featuring dramatic storytelling, wagon rides, regional craft vendors, souvenirs, historical presentations, music performances, roaming spooks, and much more. The event ends with an interactive demonstration of paranormal investigation techniques hosted by a respected research group. The event takes place from 3 p.m. to midnight. Parking is at 71815 Shea Rd. There is a $10 parking charge per vehicle, but most activities and entertainment at the festival are free.
Other activities to enjoy in this area include the Moonville Rail Trail and King’s Hollow Tunnel, the Zaleski Backpack Trail and waterfall and a secluded, peaceful camping experience at Under the Stars Campground.
For $85 per person, guests are let loose in this creepy old hospital at night in search of numerous ghosts that have been reported in the building. Public hunts can be booked for Oct. 7-13-14-20-21-27-28 and Nov. 25 and take place from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. Located at 1587 Granville Pike, Lancaster. Call (740) 994-1230 to reserve a spot.
The Ridges, located on the campus of Ohio University in Athens, was originally developed as a site for the Athens Lunatic Asylum more than 150 years ago. The facility does not promote itself as being haunted, but does offer several chances to see what other people say is a haunted building.
The Southeast Ohio History Center (on campus) hosts outdoor walking tours of the grounds where you can learn about the history of the facility and mental health treatment. Self-guided tours also are available, which includes a series of rugged hiking trails on the same property as the gothic building. Learn more at ohio.edu/ridges.
For one night only (on Oct. 28 this year) the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway, 33 W. Canal St., Nelsonville, hosts its Halloween Train. The “trunk or treat train” departs at 6 p.m. and children are encouraged to dress up for the event. Tickets range in price from $21-25 and sellout quickly.
Additionally, on Thursdays and Fridays in October, enjoy a 2-hour train ride through the beautiful scenery in the region. Trips are offered on Thursdays and Fridays in October. The cost is $21 for adults; $19 for seniors; and $16 for children 3-12. Book your trips at hvsry.org or by calling (740) 753-9531.
In 1930, 82 men lost their lives in what remains Ohio’s worst coal mining disaster ever. The event occurred at the Sunday Creek Coal Mine when electricity ignited methane gas in the shaft. The mine was eventually closed in 1945. Today, only a few chimneys and buildings remain from the old mining company, but some say a few ghosts are there as well. A memorial plaque on the property commemorates the disaster and visitors can walk around the ruins. Located at 16145 Millfield Rd.
There are a number of ghosts who allegedly haunt some of the main attractions at Hocking Hills State Park. For instance, according to HauntedHocking.com, a ghostly lady walks the trails of Ash Cave (below left), a man named Retzler and his dog haunt Old Man’s Cave (below right), and a young woman named Mary haunts Rockhouse.
Other places to visit in the area:
A Georgian Mannor Bed & Breakfast, 29055 Evans Rd., Logan – This very elegant bed and breakfast overlooking a lake is also alleged to be haunted. (Image below from A Georgian Mannor Bed & Breakfast) LEARN MORE
Nelsonville Brick Park, 105 St. Rt. 278, Nelsonville – Located on the outskirts of town, this abandoned circular structure is a ghost from the community’s past
Lake Hope State Park – There are two alleged haunted places in the park—Hope Iron Furnace and Buzzard Cave. Both are easily accessible. Lake Hope is pictured below.
The Mothman – Located just across the Ohio River from Gallipolis is Point Pleasant, West Virginia, home of the Mothman Incident of the 1960s, where some kind of creature came to town, warning of impending doom and scaring people. A bridge later collapsed on the Ohio River. Today, the town contains a museum, statue and other attractions dedicated to the Mothman, plus some abandoned places to explore. Read more about the Mothman HERE.